by Shelli of Hairscapades
Things that make you go, “hmmmmmm … .”
A few weeks ago, I came across a post from Sweet Afro Hair referring to Chicoro’s theory of “lead hair” with a link to this thread on Long Hair Care Forums (LHCF) illustrating the phenomena. The thread on LHCF begins with two pictures of a woman’s hair taken 5 months apart. The first is a picture of her hair illustrating what appears to be a seriously thinning perimeter. The second is of her hair five months later where the perimeter appears to have filled in at the longest length from the prior picture!! WHAT THE … WHAT?!?!?!
I was immediately intrigued and started googling!! It seems that this “lead hair” theory was propounded and explained by Chicoro in her book, Grow It: How to Grow Afro-Textured Hair to Maximum Lengths in the Shortest Time. However, I was not able to find much online explaining the thought/science behind it except the following:
from Long Hair Don’t Care:
LHDC: Yeah, I like to use Chicoro’s method of trimming. She calls it the goal point or length based method, I think. Bascially you let your hair grow (regardless of what the ends are looking like) until the bulk of your hair reaches your goal length. BUT the lead hair (the strands of hair that are the longest) shouldn’t be longer than about 2-4″ than the bulk of your hair.
She advises to set small goals and once you reach them cut all your hair evenly and start all over again…
I hope that makes sense. I figured since she has hair down to her behind, she knows what’s (sic) she’s talking about LOL!
But the fact is that hair grows unevenly…so who’s to say tht (sic) the shorter lengths are due to breakage and not because your hair grows slower in that area? I also think that trimming is just for aesthetics…but that’s JMHO.
I also found this thread on LHCF. In the first LHCF discussion linked above, everyone seems to firmly believe in “lead hairs.” But, in this second thread, the premise is met with deprecation, with many adamantly against the concept. However, I must say, the young woman who began it was asking about whether the longer strands of her hair looked like “lead hair” or breakage and, ultimately, it did appear to be very bad breakage. I can easily understand why some disbelieve this theory as it may be used as an excuse to hang onto longer, damaged, thinning hair for the sake of length.
That being said, I am thoroughly fascinated with this concept!!! I don’t have enough information, proof or “scientific evidence” to entirely believe it yet. BUT, I think that it is something that could be easily proven or disproven … at least, to one’s self! Something that I do believe is true is that hair on the same head can grow at different rates. You get your hair cut in a blunt cut and a few months later, it’s longer, but rounded or one side is longer than the other. I know that my right side seems to grow a little faster than my left. I also have been wondering if the thin layer that I had cut off at the beginning of the NC.com GOC in February is returning. However, since I haven’t straightened my hair since last October and have no intention to do so anytime soon and my nape hair is almost straight and always hangs longer than my curlier crown, I’m not a good “candidate” to test this theory.
However, I was thinking that one of YOU might be willing and able to do it over the course of our challenge, which has 5 months (well 4 1/2) remaining! I think whoever wants to test the theory would definitely have to begin with an even perimeter as the “control,” though obviously it does not need to be full thickness. This would need to be evaluated on fully straightened hair (not flat ironed per se, but a blow out at least). If the perimeter is irregular, I think a cut/trim is definitely in order to even it out at the longest point. Also, any split or damaged ends need to be eliminated. It’s important that the ends are examined and appear healthy. Then, a length check tee shirt or, at least, a shirt marked with the starting points is needed and should be used for the initial, mid-point and final length checks on straightened hair. I say starting points, because I think the full thickness line needs to be marked as well as the longest/thinnest layer. Search and Destroys to remove splits and knots must be employed as a preventative measure, but no trims other than the initial evening one. Photos at 3 intervals would be necessary: one in September, one approximately 60 days later (mid-November) and one at the end of January. Finally, I was initially thinking that the individual’s hair should be in good health with limited to no breakage, as far as they can tell. However, this may not be entirely necessary as one could also determine if the hair is breaking or growing during this process. If the long hairs shorten to meet the bulk of the hair or the entire length of hair becomes shorter: *ding, ding, ding* … breakage! If someone wants to do this because they are trying to figure out if they are experiencing breakage, maybe we could have two volunteers: one with healthy hair, one with ends that are “suspect;)?”
So, what say ye? Is anyone interested in being a “guinea pig” for our little lead hair experiment?
Have you heard of this theory? Are you for or against and why?
I know it didn't matter how often I trimmed my hair it always grew back the same way. It never stayed even so the lead hair theory might be true.
Sophie, I just learned some more details from the poster I referenced. You are supposed to set small milestones (like a few inches) and never let your lead hairs get beyond that point. So, you can start out with a full perimeter or a thin one (but healthy ends). You set interim goal lengths (as an example, if you are armpit length and want to get to waist length, an interim goal would be bra-strap length). As your lead hairs grow to that interim goal, you allow them too although your perimeter may be thin. But, you never allow them to grow beyond that point. You trim and try to see if/allow the other hair to catch up with the lead hair. Then, you start the process over again. Misha of SweetAfroHair provided more details for me here in this post:
Lena, I'm e-mailing you! We have two others who want to do this. Seems I'm going to have a little group to participate in this experiment! I think this will be very interesting!!
I'm interested in participating as well. Give me some kind of hair discipline!
This theory doesn't seem right to me, but maybe I'm not understanding it. It is true that there are fewer hair ends at the longest length of our hair than at the scalp because new hairs are growing, but then shouldn't there always be a lead hair halo at the end of our hair? What do people mean by "catch up" if the lead hair is still growing too?
It makes sense. As we shed hair, that hair grows, some other hair stops growing, some other hair falls out and the cycle continues. I think it's only common sense to assume that your hair will be a different lengths at different times. Logically, I can't even understand why someone wouldn't agree with this premise…
I stopped trimming and finally allowed my hair to catch up to my lead hairs. It definitely worked and my hair is finally all one length. I'm currently past wait length.
Hi, Shelli of Hairscapades here. I'd just like to clarify that the above pic of my hair is NOT lead hair! LOL!!! It's a long layer that I cut in February as the varying shrinkage on my hair made it look dumb! LOL! Thanks for your comments. I'm so interested is seeing this in action as those pics on LHCF stopped me in my tracks.
I have to say I think this theory works, the only reason I say that is because up until I was 23 I got perms not necessarily trims on a regular basis, due to the damage that the perms were causiing my hair could never grow any longer than jus above my shoulders. I stopped getting perms and got "silkings" (similar to a dominican blow out) and OMG… I never had my hair grow so fast and so long it got to the middle of my back and this didn't include regular trims. I did this for about 6yrs with maybe 2 trims during that time. That is until I decided to go Natural, gave myself a deadline (6months) to cut the heat damaged ends, and less than a year later my hair is back at the length it was when I cut the damaged ends off, and I didn't have any trimming done at all. I don't plan on trimming my ends anytime soon, so far my ends seem to be healthy! I think it just depends on what works for you and how you handle your hair.
I'll do it lol firstname.lastname@example.org
Wow, I wish I had this much time on my hands! Lol
Good luck with your experiment!
Kimmaytube believes a similar way. In a recent video she mentions that hair grows unevenly, so she doesn't bother with trimming it even. I kinda believe trims are aesthetic as well. *shrugs*
I don't believe in getting "regular" trims so I can agree with this theory. I probably trim my hair twice a year, whenever I get a relaxer. Stopping the regular cutting has helped me maintain length and made me realize I was trimming unnecessarily. Maybe this is just to get women out of the habit of trimming and more in the habit of trimming when necessary.
not to be doubting debby, but i think this is more a factor of maintaining your ends which leads to growth.
as we all know that if your hair breaks faster then it grows you won't see any progress. so this lead hair theory as i interpret is, grow your hair for a length of time, then cut it all to the same length, rinse lather repeat.